Review by JamesMcloud91
"One of the Best Online Games for the DS is now the Best Online Game for the Wii!"
As stated in my title, Mario Kart Wii is probably the best online experience the Wii has to offer right now. However, the game is not without it's flaws, and some of them seem so obvious that it's very surprising that the developers didn't fix them. But more on both of those topics later. Let's start with gameplay...
In sixteen years the core gameplay of Mario Kart has remained relatively unchanged: you choose one of many Mario characters (such as Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Wario, Yoshi, and of course Mario himself) and race around a track shooting items at everybody to get ahead. Kinda like how NASCAR would be if it weren't boring. This time however, there's a catch (as there usually is). Now you can choose a bike instead of a kart, do tricks to get boosts, race with eleven other characters, and did I mention you can do all this using motion control?! Well, you can, and frankly the new Wii Wheel works surprisingly well. In some ways it even works better than Nintendo's previous Excite Truck, and, at least in my experience, might succeed in encouraging non-gamers to give it a try. HOWEVER, the wheel makes it a tad bit more difficult to drift, which will really mess up gamers who take on the 150cc Grand Prix. Thankfully, there's an option to use the Gamecube controller instead, and I think most hardcore fans (myself included) will probably switch to that after a few hours with the Wheel.
Now, some might call the addition of bikes refreshing, and some might call it unbalanced. It is nice to be able to choose between different types of vehicles, especially after years of being confined to cars, but for competitive play it will soon become apparent that the bikes are really the only way to race in this game. They can speed up at will using wheelies, they turn tighter, they can get into smaller spaces, and they're easier to perform tricks on. The only downside is that they generally have lower top speeds than karts and can only perform single-boost drifts (as opposed to the karts' double-boosters). However, the wheelies and turning more than makes up for this. Trust me.
The new tracks are, as always, fun and innovative, and the old ones are, as always, questionable in the selection, but still fairly good. Some of the new characters are questionable in choice (such as Baby Daisy), but for the most part the characters are as cool as they are unexpected (such as Funky Kong).
In fact, the biggest flaws in this game are not with the actual gameplay (though some might complain about the series' famous slingshot effect), but with the game modes. For instance, there is no option in multiplayer mode to turn off the CPUs, or to play multiple races in a row (it automatically ends your multiplayer round after four), or to even do something as simple as choosing a random track. Further more, the battle mode, which has in the past been one of the best and least-changed aspects of the series, has been downgraded with an unchangable timer. This takes away most of the tension, and even the fun, especially considering that now when you lose your balloons, you just respawn with little consequence. What's the point of even having balloons if they don't mean anything?
These flaws baffle me most of all because none of theme were present in the previous Mario Kart DS, which, in theory, should be the less advanced game.
This is something that is comparable to Mario Kart DS. Just like that game had some of the best graphics for the DS, so too does this game have some of the best for the Wii. I'll be saying similar things throughout the rest of this review, so be ready. Anyways, Nintendo has once again proven that they can get way more out of their own systems than other companies. Between this, Metroid Prime 3, Mario Galaxy, and Super Smash Bros Brawl, it really is a wonder that anybody ever questions the graphical abilities of the Wii.
The music in this game is just what you would expect from a Mario game. It's catchy, whimsical, and fun to listen to. The voices in this game are also just what you would expect from a Mario game. Aside from the plumbers (voiced impeccably by Charles Martinet), everyone is pretty annoying and I wish they would just shut up. But they're at least twice as bearable as the Sonic characters.
And now the moment you've been waiting for: WiFi! I decided to make this separate from the Gameplay section because it really is a different experience (and it really is a lot better). This game takes everything that was great about Mario Kart DS's online and improves it tenfold! The twelve racers make it feel more tense, the ability for two people to play together from the same Wii is pretty cool, the random track selection feels a bit more fair, and the races seem a bit more evenly matched, for the most part.
Besides normal VS WiFi, there's also a Time Trial mode where you can race ghosts to unlock characters, try to beat the world record on any of the courses (you won't do it), and even learn some new tricks by watching other people's replays. This is a seemingly unnecessary addition that proves to be one of the game's brightest points, mostly because of how intensely you'll actually want to beat people's times now (before, I almost never did time trials. Now that's almost all I do).
Finally, there's a new tournament challenge every month or so, sent over WiFi by Nintendo. These are usually interesting, but easily passable, and don't really offer as much fun or incentive as the normal Time Trial modes.
Mario Kart Wii is another worthy addition to the Mario Kart series. Although it does have its questionable flaws, they are not big enough for me to not recommend this game. Also, this is the best online Wii game right now, so that alone should be an incentive for most people to buy it anyway!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 08/20/08
Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (w/ Racing Wheel) (US, 04/27/08)
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